There is always that awkward moment at the beginning of the semester that you get the privilege of encountering over and over again in every single one of your Haas classes. The moment when your professor musters up the courage to ask, or more accurately, state “I need 1-2 student volunteers to be class representatives for the semester.” With no immediate response from the sea of students in front of her/him, the professor continues to list the minimal duties of being a class rep, as students continue to gaze blankly or hide behind their computers and phones. Finally after a long pause a student (always from the first or second row) volunteers. Not being able to stand the desperate, uncomfortable look on the professor’s face for a second longer, I am often that student.
The good news is, after being a class rep for the past four semesters for multiple classes, I have many benefits to report in an attempt to inspire you all to raise your hand for what should be a coveted position in an institution of individuals known for going beyond themselves.
- Improve your communication skills
Spontaneously practice your public speaking skills as you inform the class of the steps to completing their mid-semester and end-of-semester course evaluations. You can even practice your techniques of persuasion to convince the few students who immediately get up to leave early to stay and contribute to Haas’ growth and development.
- Know your classmates better
Often for large classes, there will be 2-3 class reps selected (if the number of volunteers allows). I’ve had several experiences where I became closer with my fellow class rep then I had been before the start of the course. We got together to discuss and summarize the class feedback to present to our professor and ended up swapping numbers so we could study together in preparation for our upcoming midterm. This is especially valuable if you don’t have close friends in the class and are looking for someone to ask when the homework is due or do group projects with.
- Know your professors better
In my experience this has been the most valuable benefit of being a class rep, even in a lecture of hundreds of students, your professor will know who you are (even if you don’t regularly attend office hours). Class reps typically meet with the professor mid-semester and give feedback on their peer’s impressions of the course. Sharing honest feedback and helping the professor strategize to better address student needs puts you in the ideal position to help solve pain points for your professor. Occasionally you’ll even have a professor who goes above and beyond by taking their class reps out to lunch to get to know their student volunteers better. Getting to know your professors better can be extremely beneficial for students looking for letters of recommendation for post college opportunities.
- Appreciation from the undergraduate office
The good news is this appreciation typically comes in the form of a gift card to a local eatery such as Pete’s or Jamba Juice. Who doesn’t love the added perk of a free drink as the semester comes to a close? Though I am in no position to say whether this gift card policy will continue in future semesters, I’m only speaking of my experience from the past. But just incase anyone from the undergraduate office is reading this- student class reps greatly appreciate the token of appreciation.
I hope you’ve all been moved to action so that at the beginning of next semester professors will be pleasantly startled by the swarm of eager students volunteering to be their class rep! Have another benefit to add or a unique experience as a class rep at Haas? Please comment below; we would love to hear your thoughts!